Tam-Worth it!

Since moving to South Derbyshire around half a year ago it’s been pretty good realising there’s so many places within easy reach of home where live music is happening.  Admittedly gaining access to Tamworth’s Two Gates club threatened to prove difficult – a members only establishment requiring you to be nominated and seconded by existing members to gain access.  Luckily an email explaining I’d just like to go to the gig rather than join secured a couple of tickets on the door.  The sat nav did less well at finding it, but eventually we rocked up in the car park then over to the chippy for some tea.

Once in the venue, rather than the Eyes Wide Shut type scenarios or masonic lodge we’d imagined it was perhaps something more reminiscent of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights.  A traditional social club with a lovely welcome – we got ourselves checked in, paid up and found the soundcheck underway – giving us a chance to grab a drink and catch up with Nick and the Black Thorn collective who were waiting their turn to get underway.  Soon enough Clakka, Mark, Russ and Ann arrived too so we had some kindred gig-going spirits with us!

Nick Parker was up first – it did have a bit of a feel of a family party with some background music on for much of the room – we’d positioned ourselves in the sweet spot for the sound system though so the chatter didn’t distract me at all from listening.  It was a crisp sound too – kudos to Dan for that.  After a swift soundcheck he kicked off with Departures – gradually luring in a decent number of the crowd into abandoning their conversations and taking in the clever lyrical interplay.

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Freeborn Al / 25th March 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Wakey Wakey..

Last weekend’s gig followed a really informative day at the same venue beforehand, which is something that I might return to when I’ve had a bit more ponder time.  The closest thing I have to a mining background is playing around the Gedling Colliery site as a young ‘un, and my brother’s ill-timed ambition in the mid eighties (at the age of about 4-5) of being a coal miner.  And years of abuse from Yorkshire football fans for being a scab, what with being a Forest fan.  The ramifications of the strike were something alien to me until it featured in my university studies – I’m not really qualified to write about it with any authority, but then of course this isn’t really a vessel of authority anyway – but it’s a topic that needs treating appropriately.

After the day’s speeches and discussion groups though some very in-theme musical entertainment was on offer – all three acts fronted by former mineworkers.  First up was The Star Botherers, or well, The Star Botherer in this instance – it was Bart in solo guise who took to the stage first, unusually opting to stand up for the set.  It was a big old room, bedecked with banners from the different mines around the area – heraldic, proud and defiant, much like the tone of the day – maybe it’s right that Bart was standing up!

He kicked off with Just Around the Corner, the sound in the venue was great and with the lights low in the crowd and the stage lights picking him out it was impossible not to be drawn to the performance – it was a confident one too.  Of course we missed Dave but the songs and lyrics in particular cut through the room bringing plenty of smiles.  If I was a Tory was always likely to go down well in this particular crowd, and it certainly did here (I’m sitting typing this whilst watching I, Daniel Blake – it feels strangely apt to be remembering Bart’s scathing lyrics whilst the film plays.

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Glastonburied..

We had a bit of an inpromptu decision to head down to the wonderful Bocabar in Glastonbury last night to see Nick Parker and the False Alarms and The Leylines.  I’d not planned on being in the West Midlands for work earlier in the week, but as I was it seemed logical that I was already thirty odd miles along in the right direction, so why not carry on? Plus Ella could get the train across to Solihull easily enough and meet me at my office, so that’s what we did – final meeting finished up, laptop shut down and off we went!

Now it’s worth taking some time to comment on the venue – reclaimed from an old industrial building, it has a wonderful creative and community-led vibe to it, nestled near a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Glastonbury itself, although still get lovely views of the town and the tor on the way in to get parked up.  Inside you’ll find an eatery, bar, awesome and reasonably priced artwork adorning the walls, and a low-ceilinged large event venue that holds around 300 people.  A really lovely space, nestled in an area that has clearly suffered a bit of depravation in recent years.

We descended late afternoon and settled with coffee and soft drinks, outside a murmuration of starlings was threatening to form as they prepared to roost as dusk set in.  Alas despite my best efforts I never did get to see whether or not they eventually succumbed to that peculiar and mesmerising urge they have to perform complex acrobatics together.  Inside we sat merrily watching soundchecks as the assorted musicians arrived – if you ever see a gig you fancy at The Bocabar then I’d thoroughly recommend a visit!

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Freeborn Al / 25th February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The happy bus pulls into Nottingham..

Mad Dog Mcrea are right up there in the increasingly populous pantheon of bands I absolutely adore to see live.  So it was a bit surprising that I hadn’t registered they were playing up the road until earlier this week when Dan posted about it on Facebook!  Luckily with no other plans I obtained myself a ticket for The Rescue Rooms, which made up for Ella going to see them in Cambridge last night which I couldn’t really justify on a work night!

There was of course the extra bonus of support from not just The Outlines, but a bonus addition of The Star Botherers too.  With a relatively early curfew it was an early start, so I got myself to venue in good time to find Adam, Hollie and Mark in the bar.  I really like going to The Rescue Rooms, it was a trip there to see Mark Chadwick years ago that first put me on to Ferocious Dog, and that in turn has led me to countless other awesome musical diversions – not least all of this evening’s entertainment!

Lots of other friendly faces in attendance too – although not as many as I’d have thought, even given it was a weeknight.  The Star Botherers got us underway to a room still filling with folks, kicking off with Just Around The Corner and then into Ringing in Sick, Bart joking that his songs were all about his disdain for work – dedicating the latter for folks who had work in the morning (cheers, Bart!), then gleefully pointing out he didn’t (bastard!).

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Freeborn Al / 10th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

All’s well at Birdwell..

img_0212Our original plan for Birdwell was to head up to Sam and Matt’s in Ludo and then taxi in, which would have undoubtedly been ace, but since we have plans today back in the Midlands it just made more sense to drive.  Allowing for the not-particularly-bad Friday night M1 traffic meant we made it up there in good time, so parked up and went for a wander around Birdwell – a place I must admit I never knew existed!

The Travellers Inn clearly designed for eaters – as we popped in for a couple of soft drinks to pass the time one of the waitresses stood by our table like a hawk to whisk our glasses away.  The food did look good mind, even if the welcome was frosty!  Rather than endure another round of that we headed down to the venue, what I guess is an old social /working man’s club – bar at the front, venue at the back.  The venue wasn’t open yet but the bar was.

It gave us a chance to have a sit and a natter with Rob and Russ, and admire Russ’ new tattoo that Ken has been working on before eventually being permitted into the venue room.  What a room too, nestling back there is a big stage, dancefloor and tabled area along with a bar – slightly reminiscent of The Black Market Venue but without the head space (or balcony) – cracking space in there though, and for my non-audiophile ears at least a decent sound system,

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Freeborn Al / 22nd October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Sunday.. that’s my fun day..

IMG_4983Departing in the morning from Thorne – fuelled by bacon and tea (thanks Becky and Pete!) we had a pretty packed agenda – all before getting Ella back down south for a reasonable hour given that we both had work in the morning.  A top way of ekeing out a weekend!  So we jumped into Ludo and hotfooted it to Shirebrook FC’s ground where a charity match for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund was taking place.

We bought some raffle tickets and watched the match, featuring Lee’s old team (including frequent sub appearances from Ken).  It was good to catch up with everyone, and the match was pretty entertaining – the first live footy I’ve watched in ages!  I think the score was 3-2 to Lee’s team when we left during the second half – Ken had had an eventful game, missing a penalty at the end of the first half, and scoring one in the second (sorry Ken, I was too slow with the camera for the second one!!)

There was an afternoon fun day planned at Fatboy Ink Tattoo Studio after the game – but unfortunately it was one of those days where too much was going on so we had to miss that.  We hotfooted it to the Yew Tree Inn in Ednaston, both ready for lunch – and what a lunch it was, I went for a beef roast and Ella an awesome looking lamb shank, which we duly devoured whilst nattering with Jonny and Katie.  The Yew Tree is a bloody lovely pub!

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Freeborn Al / 8th August 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Park life in Thorne..

13680884_1712994702295886_1002611072608679530_nIt was a jam-packed weekend just gone – just the way I like it!  It started with a morning soujourn to Thorne near Doncaster for A Midsummer’s Music in the Park, a reprise of last year’s event.  I parked up Ludo outside Becky and Pete’s, got him set up for later in the evening – unfortunately Ella’s train was delayed which put a spanner in our finely honed plans so I grabbed our new camping settee and wandered parkward alone.

With the Meadevil Bar in place, inflatables for the kids, facepainting, and a couple of stalls (including the ever-popular magic stall) already in place I found a suitable spot to spend the afternoon, grabbed a cider.  The sun was shining, there was good company – aside from rail based delays everything was going according to plan beautifully!  I really do like the Memorial Park in Thorne as a place to sit and chill watching good music!

The first music was served up courtesy of Honeywitch – stripped down somewhat, with guitar, bass, cajon (I was watching this most carefully) and Claire on vocals.  They started with acoustic guitar for more ethereal folksy numbers – Fly With Me kicked off the set, followed with a song whose title escaped me but was about a chap who’d until recently been on death row (having subsequently been exonerated) – with the awesome lyric “democracies die when democracies kill” – succinct and perfect.

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Freeborn Al / 8th August 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part two)..

IMG_4816Feeling surprisingly fresh we emerged from the van into an already pretty warm day – greetings made, breakfast acquired (again, from Nana’s Kitchen), we had an early appointment up at the arena.

Saturday was Pixiestock day – so it started for us in the kids tent, where Tina was telling the assembled young ‘uns a story about why foxes and badgers live in holes.  Ella was up next, complete in tiger onesie, to read The Tiger That Came To Tea – with the temperature already soaring it was warm work!  Kezzi followed with a fairy story before the assembled children were led to the glade by the Pixie King.

IMG_4817Lucky escape for me, Naomi had been plotting for me to dress as the pied piper at one point for the purpose of leading the procession to the stage!  Once in the glade Spike read The Gruffalo complete with amusing accents – before we were treated to a frankly slightly sinister yet oddly compelling Mouse Circus puppet show.  One of the fantastic things about Deerstock is the amount of thought that goes into keeping the young folk entertained.

There was a vote whether the wooden deer mascot called ‘No Eye’ should be burned or saved – I’ve no idea what the outcome was.  I voted to burn him. Mwah ha ha!

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Freeborn Al / 29th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Ten years of Doonimania!

Murphy!

Murphy!

Who would’ve thought a novelty band themed on reuniting the disparate offspring of Val Doonican would have the legs to last ten years?  Well that’s what they’ve done – buoyed by a huge attendance in the Woodland at Bearded Theory, and now a sell-out anniversary show on their home turf – perhaps it’s fair to say they’ve ascended from novelty support act to a destination band.  I think it definitely is.

We’d arranged to take Ludo to park at Sam and Matt’s – Ella got the train to be collected by Sam and once work was finished I drove up to meet them, arriving first thanks to some train delays.  Once the van was parked up I had a lovely cup of tea, being the rock and roll person I am – but soon enough once Ella, Sam, Dave, Caroline and Murphy had arrived the lure of cider was too much – then we drove in to Barnsley for the party!

IMG_4203Once the many many many greetings had taken place we headed in to the venue in time for Pocketful o’Nowt – I don’t even know how to begin doing them justice in words!  Mike, the frontman, greeted the audience flaunting his iPad, loaded up with a music app for him to accompany guitar, bass and drums – often whilst dangling from the light fittings, climbing over the barriers to join the crowd and generally cavorting.

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Freeborn Al / 21st June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Brad-bothering on Sunday..

IMG_4165I’d deliberately planned a quiet weekend for the one just gone, and it was very welcome – a chance to relax, watch the England match with my Dad and generally not be dashing about all over the place was great.  But come Sunday with the working week looming I had a craving, and spotting Brad Dear was playing at the Workman’s in Warsop for Star Bothering on Sunday I fired off a WhatsApp message to Andy to see if he fancied a sedate road trip oop North.

He was!  So we were off – Brad was due to play as well as of course a bit of Star Botherers and a couple more acts… or so we thought.  A young lass due to play did arrive, but hadn’t realised the start time would be a bit later and had another open mic night to play, a pity – Bart too wasn’t around so no Star Botherers – and I’m not sure what happened to the third act – Warren Ireland – but well, it all worked out pretty well for us all told.

Brad arrived – and with a fairly small crowd of friends to watch we basically had a lovely ‘evening with Brad’ – he kicked off the evening, unusually opting to sit down with his guitar (I think he wanted the novelty of moving a mic-stand downward.  A quick initial set took in the likes of Far AwayFestival Bar Blues (see first video) and Maid of the River (unprompted – and my favourite Levellers song too!).  With just a few locals, Dave and myself and Andy initially it was a very up-close and personal session!

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Freeborn Al / 13th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments